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'Anonymous' Hacker Indicted As His Hunger Strike Continues ( 45

Eight months after being rescued at sea near Cuba and then arrested, Anonymous hacker Martin Gottesfeld now faces prosecution as well as death by hunger. Newsweek reports: A member of Anonymous has been indicted on hacking charges while on the third week of a prison hunger strike protesting perceived institutionalized torture and political prosecutions. Martin Gottesfeld, 32, was charged this week in relation to the hacking of Boston Childrenâ(TM)s Hospital in 2014 following the alleged mistreatment of one of its patients. Gottesfeld has previously admitted to targeting the hospital, though says he did it in defense of "an innocent, learning-disabled, 15-year-old girl"...

Since beginning his hunger strike on October 3, Gottesfeld tells Newsweek from prison he has lost 16.5 pounds. He says he will continue his hunger strike until two demands are met: a promise from the presidential candidates that children are not mistreated in the way he claims Pelletier was; and an end to the "political" style of prosecution waged by Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.

The indictment claims that the hospital spent more than $300,000 to "mitigate" the damage from the 2014 attack.

Russians Seek Answers To Central Moscow GPS Anomaly ( 125

stevegee58 writes: Russians have been noticing that their GPS doesn't work in Moscow near the Kremlin. Everyone from taxi drivers to Pokemon Go players suddenly notice that they're transported 18 miles away at the airport when they near the Kremlin. While this may be an annoyance to the public it seems like a reasonable countermeasure to potential terrorist threats. Is it only a matter of time before other vulnerable sites such as the White House or the Capitol in Washington start doing the same? "A programmer for Russian internet firm Yandex, Grigory Bakunov, said Thursday his research showed a system for blocking GPS was located inside the Kremlin, the heavily guarded official residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin," reports Yahoo. "The first anomaly was recorded in June, according to Russian media reports, which have also suggested that the GPS interference comes and goes in a pattern. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday he did not know why the malfunction was occurring and admitted experiencing the problem himself when driving recently. Peskov redirected questions to Russia's Federal Guards Service, which is responsible for protecting the Kremlin and senior Russian officials."

Chemical-Releasing Bike Lock Causes Vomiting To Deter Thieves ( 172

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: The "Skunklock" is a U-shaped steel bicycle lock with a pressurized, stinking gas inside. The gas escapes in a cloud if someone attempts to cut the lock. The company claims its "noxious chemical" is so disgusting it "induces vomit in the majority of cases." Even better, it claims, the gas causes "shortness of breathing" and impaired eyesight. The idea, which tries to make stealing a bike as unpleasant as possible, is raising money for production on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. "Our formula irreversibly ruins the clothes worn by the thief or any of the protection they may be wearing," the company claims on its crowdfunding page. Since stolen bikes sell for a fraction of their true cost, replacing clothing or equipment could make the theft more trouble than it's worth. Skunklock says it has tested its foul gas, and it even penetrates high-end gas masks -- though most thieves are unlikely to go to such lengths. But the company said that the compressed gas is perfectly safe -- and can only be released "by trying to cut through it with an angle grinder." If the chemical countermeasure is released, it is a one-time only use, and the lock, which costs over $100, will have to be replaced. But the hope is that the unpleasant experience will cause them to abandon the attempted theft, leaving the bicycle behind.

Schiaparelli Mars Lander May Have Exploded On Impact, European Agency Says ( 103

Instead of drifting gently onto Mars' surface, the Schiaparelli Mars lander hit the planet hard -- and possibly exploded, the European Space Agency said today. NPR adds: The NASA images, taken on Oct. 20, show two recent changes to the landscape on Mars' surface -- one dark blotch, and one white speck -- which are being interpreted as Schiaparelli's parachute and its crash site. With the warning that analysis is still ongoing, here are the details the ESA is sharing Friday: "Estimates are that Schiaparelli dropped from a height of between 2 and 4 kilometers, therefore impacting at a considerable speed, greater than 300 km/h [186 mph]. The relatively large size of the feature would then arise from disturbed surface material. It is also possible that the lander exploded on impact, as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full." That sequence of events followed the lander's largely trouble-free approach to the Martian surface, a trip that was being widely watched on Wednesday, when the craft lost contact with the ESA and its Mars mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, just before its touchdown.

Stephen Hawking: AI Will Be Either the Best or the Worst Thing To Humanity ( 200

At the opening of the new Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking offered his insight into the positive and negative implications of creating a true AI. He said, via BetaNews:We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity. So it's a welcome change that people are studying instead the future of intelligence. The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge... With the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one -- industrialization. And surely we will aim to fully eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It will bring great disruption to our economy. AI will be either the best, or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which.

Facebook Bans Animated Breast Cancer Awareness Video Showing Circle-Shaped Breasts ( 96

Last month, Facebook deleted a historic Vietnam war photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, claiming it violated Facebook's restrictions on nudity. Now it appears that the company has removed a video on breast cancer awareness posted in Sweden after deeming the images offensive, the Swedish Cancer Society said on Thursday. The Guardian reports: The video, displaying animated figures of women with circle-shaped breasts, was aimed at explaining to women how to check for suspicious lumps. Sweden's Cancerfonden said it had tried in vain to contact Facebook, and had decided to appeal against the decision to remove the video. "We find it incomprehensible and strange how one can perceive medical information as offensive," Cancerfoden communications director Lena Biornstad told Agence France-Presse. "This is information that saves lives, which is important for us," she said. "This prevents us from doing so." The Guardian went on to report in a separate article that the the Swedish Cancer Society decided to make the round breasts square to evade Facebook's censorship of female anatomy. The group issued an open letter to Facebook featuring the pair of pair of breasts constructed of pink squares as opposed to pink circles. Facebook did apologize for banning the video, saying in a statement to the Guardian: "We're very sorry, our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ads."

Nurses In Australia Face Punishment For Promoting Anti-Vaccination Messages Via Social Media ( 539 writes: Medical Express reports that nurses and midwives promoting anti-vaccination messages in Australia could face punishment including being slapped with a caution and having their ability to practice medicine restricted. Serious cases could be referred to an industry tribunal, where practitioners could face harsher penalties such as having their registration suspended or cancelled. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia released the vaccination standards in response to what it described as a small number of nurses and midwives promoting anti-vaccination via social media. The statement also urges members of the public to report nurses or midwives promoting anti-vaccination. Promoting false, misleading or deceptive information is an offense under national law and is prosecutable by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. "The board will consider whether the nurse or midwife has breached their professional obligations and will treat these matters seriously," the statement said. However Dr. Hannah Dahlen, a professor of midwifery at the University of Western Sydney and the spokeswoman for the Australian College of Midwives, worries the crackdown may push people with anti-vaccination views further underground. "The worry is the confirmation bias that can occur, because people might say: 'There you go, this is proof that you can't even have an alternative opinion.' It might in fact just give people more fuel for their belief systems."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thinks Space Can Be the New Internet ( 90

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said space is essentially a new internet, as it is the next frontier that needs new infrastructure to support new entrepreneurs. He said the purpose of Blue Origin is to build out a similar kind of infrastructure for space that Amazon used to operate during the days of the early internet, such as the United States Postal Service and long distance phone network. The Verge reports: "Two kids in their dorm room can reinvent an industry," Bezos said, referring to the strengths of the modern internet. "Two kids in their dorm room cannot do anything interesting in space." Bezos says rocket reusability needs to be improved, and both Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX are working toward the goal of vastly reducing the cost of sending payloads to space. Bezos said there's also a number of restraints right now that prevent the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that helped create Amazon do the same for a next-generation space venture. "We need to be able to put big things in space at low cost." Bezos talked of his earliest days at Amazon more than 20 years ago, where he was driving packages himself to the post office with a 10-person team. "We were sitting on a bunch of a heavy lifting infrastructure," he said. "For example, there was already a gigantic network called United States Postal Service. The internet itself was sitting on time of the long distance phone network." This is the kind of infrastructure Bezos hopes to build out with Blue Origin. "Every time you figure out some way of providing tools and services that allow other people to deploy their creativity, you're really onto something," Bezos said. But building that infrastructure space is still the grandest dream. "I think space is about to enter a golden age."

First New US Nuclear Reactor In 20 Years Goes Live ( 322

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: The Tennessee Valley Authority is celebrating an event 43 years in the making: the completion of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. In 1973, the TVA, one of the nation's largest public power providers, began building two reactors that combined promised to generate enough power to light up 1.3 million homes. The first reactor, delayed by design flaws, eventually went live in 1996. Now, after billions of dollars in budget overruns, the second reactor has finally started sending power to homes and businesses. Standing in front of both reactors Wednesday, TVA President Bill Johnson said Watts Bar 2, the first U.S. reactor to enter commercial operation in 20 years, would offer clean, cheap and reliable energy to residents of several southern states for at least another generation. Before Watts Bar 2, the last time an American reactor had fired up was in 1996. It was Watts Bar 1 -- and according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it cost $6.8 billion, far greater than the original price tag at $370 million. In the 2000s, some American power companies, faced with growing environmental regulations, eyed nuclear power again as a top alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil. A handful of companies, taking advantage of federal loan guarantees from the Bush administration, revived nuclear reactor proposals in a period now known as the so-called "nuclear renaissance." Eventually, nuclear regulators started to green light new reactors, including ones in Georgia and South Carolina. In 2007, the TVA resumed construction on Watts Bar 2, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The TVA originally said it would take five years to complete. The TVA, which today serves seven different southern states, relies on nuclear power to light up approximately 4.5 million homes. Watts Bar 2, the company's seventh operating reactor, reaffirms its commitment to nukes for at least four more decades, Johnson said Wednesday. In the end, TVA required more than five years to build the project. The final cost, far exceeding its initial budget, stood at $4.7 billion.

Schiaparelli Mars Probe's Parachute 'Jettisoned Too Early', Whereabouts Still Unknown ( 180

An anonymous reader writes: Europe's Schiaparelli lander did not behave as expected as it headed down to the surface of Mars on Wednesday. Telemetry data recovered from the probe during its descent indicates that its parachute was jettisoned too early. The rockets it was supposed to use to bring itself to a standstill just above the ground also appeared to fire for too short a time. The European Space Agency (Esa) has not yet conceded that the lander crashed but the mood is not positive. Experts will continue to analyse the data and they may also try to call out to Schiaparelli in the blind hope that it is actually sitting on the Red Planet intact. In addition, the Americans will use one of their satellites at Mars to image the targeted landing zone to see if they can detect any hardware. Although, the chances are slim because the probe is small. For the moment, all Esa has to work with is the relatively large volume of engineering data Schiaparelli managed to transmit back to the "mothership" that dropped it off at Mars - the Trace Gas Orbiter.

Stanford Researchers Release Virtual-Reality Simulation That Transports Users To Ocean of the Future ( 83

Tekla Perry writes: Stanford's Jeremy Bailenson and his Virtual Human Interaction Lab have for more than a decade been testing whether experiences from virtual reality can change real-world behavior. Now they are using their knowledge -- and expertise at developing VR software -- in what they hope will be a large-scale move towards making people behave better. The lab this week released, for free, a VR experience for the HTC Vive. It's aimed at giving people the sense of diving down to a coral reef -- but the real goal is getting them to consider how carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is killing the oceans. He hopes, with the dearth of good VR content available, this software will proliferate at least as fast as VR hardware does. Next up for the lab, a deep dive into homelessness. The experience is formally called "The Ocean Acidification Experience" and it's "intended to teach users about the chemistry behind ocean acidification, as well as the problems it causes, and what they can do to help prevent it," according to IEEE Spectrum. Bailenson describes the general story line by saying, "It starts with a globe. We talk about how we can see climate on the coastlines, but nobody can see how carbon dioxide affects the oceans. We then take you into a crowded city. You touch an exhaust pipe, and you then see carbon dioxide go into the atmosphere, and you're told to follow one particular molecule. Then you are in a boat, on the ocean, you see your molecule come towards you. You touch it and push it into the water; when it lands you see the chemical reaction that creates acid; that's the chemistry lesson. Then you are underwater, at this special reef in Ischia, Italy. This reef has naturally occurring carbon dioxide from underwater volcanoes; it shows how all our oceans will look by 2100. We take you to a normal reef, where you see coral, and count sea snails and species of fish. Then you go to an acidified reef; you see that algae have taken over the reef, there is no coral; there are fewer fish species, and no sea snails. The final scene tells you what you can do to help, prevent this future, including managing your own carbon footprint, talking to decision makers, and supporting research organizations."

ESA Lander's Signal Cut Out Just Before It Was Supposed To Land on Mars ( 244

An anonymous reader shares an ArsTechnica report: On Wednesday, the European Space Agency sought to become the second entity to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars with its Schiaparelli lander. And everything seemed to be going swimmingly right up until the point that Schiaparelli was to touch down. The European scientists had been tracking the descent of Schiaparelli through an array of radio telescopes near Pune, India and were able to record the moment when the vehicle exited a plasma blackout. The scientists also received a signal that indicated parachute deployment. But during the critical final moments, when nine hydrazine-powered thrusters were supposed to fire to arrest Schiaparelli's descent, the signal disappeared. At that point, the European Space Agency's webcast went silent for several minutes before one of the flight directors could be heard to say, "We expected the signal to continue, but clearly it did not. We don't want to jump to conclusions."

DNA Testing For Jobs May Be On Its Way, Warns Gartner ( 227

Reader dcblogs writes: It is illegal today to use DNA testing for employment, but as science advances its understanding of genes that correlate to certain desirable traits -- such as leadership and intelligence -- business may want this information. People seeking leadership roles in business, or even those in search of funding for a start-up, may volunteer their DNA test results to demonstrate that they have the right aptitude, leadership capabilities and intelligence for the job. This may sound farfetched, but it's possible based on the direction of the science, according to Gartner analysts David Furlonger and Stephen Smith, who presented their research Wednesday at the firm's Symposium IT/xpo in Orlando. This research is called 'maverick' in Gartner parlance, meaning it has a somewhat low probability and is still years out, but its potential is nonetheless worrisome to the authors. It isn't as radical as it seems. Job selection on the basis of certain desirable genetic characteristics is already common in the military and sports. Even without testing, businesses, governments and others may use this understanding about how some characteristics are genetically determined to develop new interview methodologies and testing to help identify candidates predisposed to the traits they desire.

Why Your Devices Are Probably Eroding Your Productivity ( 98

University of California, San Francisco neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and California State University, Dominguez Hills professor emeritus Larry Rosen explain in their book "The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World" why people have trouble multitasking, and specifically why one's productivity output is lowered when keeping up with emails, for example. Lesley McClurg writes via KQED Science: When you engage in one task at a time, the prefrontal cortex works in harmony with other parts of the brain, but when you toss in another task it forces the left and right sides of the brain to work independently. The process of splitting our attention usually leads to mistakes. In other words, each time our eyes glance away from our computer monitor to sneak a peak at a text message, the brain takes in new information, which reduces our primary focus. We think the mind can juggle two or three activities successfully at once, but Gazzaley says we woefully overestimate our ability to multitask. In regard to answering emails, McClurg writes: Gazzaley stresses that our tendency to respond immediately to emails and texts hinders high-level thinking. If you're working on a project and you stop to answer an email, the research shows, it will take you nearly a half-hour to get back on task. "When a focused stream of thought is interrupted it needs to be reset," explains Gazzaley. "You can't just press a button and switch back to it. You have to re-engage those thought processes, and recreate all the elements of what you were engaged in. That takes time, and frequently one interruption leads to another." In other words, repetitively switching tasks lowers performance and productivity because your brain can only fully and efficiently focus on one thing at a time. Plus, mounting evidence shows that multitasking could impair the brain's cognitive abilities. Stanford researchers studied the minds of people who regularly engage in several digital communication streams at once. They found that high-tech jugglers struggle to pay attention, recall information, or complete one task at a time. And the habit of multitasking could lower your score on an IQ test, according to researchers at the University of London. The saving grace is that we don't need to ditch technology as "there's a time and place for multitasking," according to Gazzaley. "If you're in the midst of a mundane task that just has to get done, it's probably not detrimental to have your phone nearby or a bunch of tabs open. The distractions may reduce boredom and help you stay engaged. But if you're finishing a business plan, or a high-level writing project, then it's a good idea to set yourself up to stay focused."

Half of American Adults Are In a Face-Recognition Database ( 64

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Half of American adults are in a face-recognition database, according to a Georgetown University study released Wednesday. That means there's about 117 million adults in a law enforcement facial-recognition database, the study by Georgetown's Center on Privacy and Technology says. The report (PDF), titled "The Perpetual Line-up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America," shows that one-fourth of the nation's law enforcement agencies have access to face-recognition databases, and their use by those agencies is virtually unregulated. Where do the mug shots come from? For starters, about 16 states allow the FBI to use facial recognition to compare faces of suspected criminals to their driver's licenses or ID photos, according to the study. "In this line-up," the study says, "it's not a human that points to the suspect -- it's an algorithm." The study says 26 states or more allow police agencies to "run or request searches" against their databases or driver's licenses and ID photos. This equates to "roughly one in two American adults has their photos searched this way," according to the study. Many local police agencies also insert mug shots of people they arrest into searchable, biometric databases, according to the report. According to the report, researchers obtained documents stating that at least five "major police departments," including those in Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, "either claimed to run real-time face recognition off of street cameras, bought technology that can do so, or expressed an interest in buying it." The Georgetown report's release comes three months after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the FBI has access to as many as 411.9 million images as part of its face-recognition database. The study also mentioned that the police departments have little oversight of their databases and don't audit them for misuse: "Maryland's system, which includes the license photos of over two million residents, was launched in 2011. It has never been audited. The Pinellas Country Sheriff's Office system is almost 15 years old and may be the most frequently used system in the country. When asked if his office audits searches for misuse, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri replied, "No, not really." Despite assurances to Congress, the FBI has not audited use of its face recognition system, either. Only nine of 52 agencies (17%) indicated that they log and audit their officers' face recognition searchers for improper use. Of those, only one agency, the Michigan State Police, provided documentation showing that their audit regime was actually functional."

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